North Penn-Mansfield rolls past Northwest.
By: Chris Manning | Towanda Daily Review | June 7, 2016 | Photo courtesy Chris Manning
By: Chris Manning | Towanda Daily Review | June 7, 2016 | Photo courtesy Chris Manning
HANOVER — Early on, it looked like North Penn-Mansfield might ruin all the chances they had but didn't capitalize on.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the first inning but didn't score. Then they got a runner in scoring position in the second inning but couldn't get him across.
Then Northwest went up 2-0 and it looked like this might be the game that got away.
But the chances kept coming and eventually NP-Mansfield broke through. And once they broke through they didn't stop, pulling away to beat the District II champions 9-2 in the first round of the PIAA Class AA baseball Championships Monday.
"It feels wonderful," Mansfield's Brendan Hill said. "Just to be able to make it to states and now to be moving on to the elite eight, it's a great feeling."
"Going to the elite eight, there's nothing like it," added winning pitcher JP Shaw.
The Tigers pounded out 13 hits, led by Carl Dinger's 3-4 day. Brendan Hills (2-for-3), JP Shaw (2-for-4), Dylan Wesneski (2-for-4) and Dewey Wise (2-for-3) all had multiple hits on the day.
Kipp Hillson (1-for-4) and Levi Adams (1-for-5) also had hits as everybody in the line-up got on base either through a hit or a walk.
Wesneski scored three times while Eli Compton crossed home twice as a courtesy runner for Shaw. Hill, Hillson, Dinger and Dylan Meyer also scored.
Hill, Shaw, Dinger and Joel Whitteker each had an RBI.
While the batting stats looked good for the Tigers, they know they left some runs out on the field.
"We left the bases loaded way too many times," admitted Hill.
Shaw went the distance for the win as he threw 90 pitches, 61 strikes and six strikeouts. He allowed five hits, one walk, two hit batsmen and two earned runs.
But while he scattered the five hits, for the most part the Rangers showed they had some pop in their bats a few times with hard hit ground balls and long fly balls that, fortunately for the Tigers, ended up as outs.
"When I came in after the first inning, the first thing I said was 'man, they can hit,'" he remarked. "I give them props for that."
The Rangers struggled to find the strike zone all game long as the three pitchers combined for seven walks and one hit batsman. They totaled 181 pitches in seven innings of work.
"I think they struggled a little bit," said Hill. "They had walks throughout the game, but once they started throwing strikes and we started putting the ball on the ground, great things happened for us and we were able to score some runs."
Reese Godfrey started and scored a no decision, going 2 1/3 innings as he threw 64 pitches, 37 of them strikes, and got four strikeouts. He also allowed three walks, five hits and one earned run.
David Piestrak was up next and only lasted an inning and a third to get the loss, throwing 59 pitches, 24 strikes and garnering no strikeouts. He allowed three hits, one walk, one hit batsman and two earned runs.
Brandon Hardiman finished out and had the most success as he went 3 1/3-innings, throwing 58 pitches and 30 of them for strikes. He struck out one while allowing five hits, three walks and one earned run.
Their defense didn't help them much either as they committed six errors.
"They lost some of their will," Hill explained about the second half of the game when NP-Mansfield took a lead. "That really helped us tack on some runs, really take over."
At the plate, except Austin Ford's RBI triple, the Rangers weren't able to get any big hits and both teams left chances out on the field as NP-Mansfield had 12 left on base and the Rangers eight.
Things looked up for NP-Mansfield right from the start as Godfrey started the game by walking Hill on four straight pitches.
He got Shaw to strikeout but then walked Hillson on five pitches. After a fly-out, Carl Dinger singled to load the bases, but Godfrey got his second K of the game to end the threat.
Godfrey labored through the inning, throwing 29 pitches.
"I thought we were patient," said North Penn-Mansfield coach Matt Perry. "I thought we were too patient, we didn't get that clutch hit."
Northwest's Andrew Boberick hit a 2-out single in the bottom of the first, but no damage was done.
In the top of the second, Williamson led off with a walk but his courtesy runner Meyer was thrown out at second base trying to steal.
Wise then hit a 1-out single and stole second, but was stranded there as Godfrey finished the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
The bottom half of the inning was when the Rangers got their offense going.
Bryce Harrison led off with a single followed by Ford's triple to right-center field that put the Rangers up 1-0.
A suicide squeeze by Brian Hardiman worked to perfection to bring Ford in to make it 2-0 Northwest.
"I got a little nervous," Shaw admitted about being down 2-0. "I knew I just had to keep them from scoring any more runs."
They continued to threaten as Piestrak singled followed by Evans reaching after getting beaned.
But Shaw got out of the jam thanks to a Brandon Reno ground to Hillson at shortstop.
The Tigers knew that they had to respond.
"At that point, when we went down 2-0, we knew we just needed to grit down and just start driving the ball," Hill said.
Shaw and Hillson led off the inning with back-to-back singles to left field. After Wesneski flew out, Dinger hit a single to left field that scored Compton, who was running for Shaw, to cut it to 2-1.
That was the end of the day for Godfrey, who was pulled for Piestrak.
Adams then laid down a bunt for a single to load the bases for Williamson, who brought in Hillson on a walk to tie the game at 2-2.
Northwest was able to contain the damage, though, as Wise grounded into a fielder's choice where Dinger was forced out at home followed by Whitteker popping up his bunt to Piestrak for the final out.
Shaw struck out the side in the bottom of the third as he started to settle in.
NP-Mansfield then broke things open in the top of the fourth.
Hill reached on an error by Northwest first baseman Brian Hardiman. A wild pitch moved him to second where Shaw brought him in on a single to right field to make it 3-2.
Shaw would reach second on the play thanks to an error by the right fielder.
After Hillson flew out, Wesneski got beaned to put runners on first and second. Then, a throwing error by Dough Campbell allowed Compton and Wesneski to score to make it 5-2.
After another out, Williamson reached on an error by the pitcher. Back-to-back walks to Wise and Whitteker brought Dinger in to make it 6-2.
A Hill single then scored Meyer — who was running for Williamson — to make it 7-2, and that ended Piestrak's short night.
Brandon Hardiman got out of the inning by striking out Shaw.
But Shaw continued to cruise on the mound, allowing just a walk in the bottom of the fourth.
That lead helped NP-Mansfield's ace find his groove.
"I started feeling confident," Shaw said about getting the cushion. "I started feeling like were controlling this game right now. At first things weren't going the way I wanted, then later in the game they were."
The Tigers tacked on another run in the fifth as Wesneski hit a 1-out single, then stole second and third.
Dinger walked to put runners on the corners. Brandon Hardiman then threw the ball away on a pick-off attempt to first base that allowed Wesneski to score and make it 8-2.
He would get back-to-back groundouts to end the inning.
In the bottom half, Shaw's only hiccup was hitting Reno with one out, but he got out of it by getting Boberick to fly out and Campbell to strikeout.
NP-Mansfield threatened in the sixth, getting runners on first and second, but didn't add to their lead, while in the bottom half of the inning Shaw retired the side on just five pitches.
In the top of the seventh, more Northwest miscues led to another Tiger run as Dinger led off with a single. He would steal second with the throw from Ford, going into the outfield all the way past the centerfielder, which allowed Dinger to score and make it 9-2.
The Rangers threatened in the bottom of the seventh as Brandon Hardiman reached on a error to start the at bat. Then with two outs, Reno singled followed by Boberick loading the bases off an error.
But Shaw finished strong as he got Campbell to ground out to secure the state playoff win.
Despite the lop-sided score, Perry knew the game could have gone differently.
"That's a competitive team over there," he said. "They kept us in check for the entire game for the most part. It seemed we were a hit away here or there from opening it up, but it never happened. They gave in, just kept battling and battling and battling."
The Tigers will now face District 12 champion Neumann-Goretti, 5-1 winners over District III runner-up Lancaster, at a site and time to be determined Thursday.
"We need to have really good practices," Hill said. "Just focus on this next team and do the best we can."